October 27, 2016

Getting Digital for Child Health

Written by Baby Science Live Coverage Team

Even if you’re not in San Francisco, the excitement and energy of the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition is spreading far and wide. How? Through digital media. Whether you’re a Tweetiatrician or brand new to Facebook, “pediadvocates” are advocating for the best care, science and research not only in the conference halls but online using #AAP16.

In addition to sharing the top news and announcements, AAP16 participants are learning how to leverage their own social media presence to be advocates for their patients and profession. The opening plenary featured a keynote from Dr. Richard Besser, MD, FAAP, of ABC News’ Promoting Children’s Health: From ABC to the Twitterverse. Formerly the interim Director of the Center for Disease Control, Dr. Besser shared how the media gives pediatricians a platform to reach more families and communities members with quality health information.

While not every doctor is a medical journalist, Dr. Besser’s work in the media has shaped him into a medical storyteller, connecting viewers to stories, facts and ways they can take to stay healthy: “What I’ve learned in TV is that you need to disaggregate the statistics into a single person’s story.” Dr. Besser spoke to his coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which raised countless concerns and questions about global health safety and how prepared the United States was for an outbreak. Going on air, Dr. Besser did what pediatricians do every day in examination rooms across the world — he provided guidance, offered advice and assured the worried listener.

Dr. Besser’s role in the media is a prime example of how pediatric professionals can leverage communications to advance the important perspective pediatricians bring. As more and more people go online for information the perspectives of pediatricians and their expertise are needed to provide insight on well-being and public health. As Dr. Besser closed, “By our very nature, we’re influencers, usually with a patient, a parent, a guardian. We shape behavior, we inspire. The true pediatrician is an advocate.”

At the AAP16 conference, the AAP has prioritized the empowerment of pediatricians’ voices in various training sessions that that provide pediatricians with the resources and technology support they need to leverage social media in their own practices. Pediatricians “got their hands dirty” in the Marketing Your Value and Message: The Impact of Your Practice Website and Social Media session with Dr. Lisa Asta, MD, FAAP and Dr. Christina Vo, MD. Dr. Asta and Dr. Vo’s session began with a walk-through of the digital opportunities pediatricians have at their fingertips; from websites and email to social media and search engine optimization, these simple tools can help every pediatrician — sole practitioner and practice group member alike — connect with their communities, offer information in new ways and raise awareness of their practice. Through a series of table-by-table breakouts, participants in Dr. Asta and Dr. Vo’s session were able to explore various tools and techniques and determine which may be best for their own practice, drawing on lessons shared from their fellow roundtable colleagues.

Ready to put digital media to work for your practice and advocacy? You can start here at #AAP16 by participating in Donate A Photo, an initiative of Johnson & Johnson. For every photo uploaded to the app, a dollar is unlocked to a charity of your choice. And right now, the American Academy of Pediatrics is a featured charity you can donate to! Share your action on social media to increase awareness and drive attention to the great work the AAP is leading. Donate your photos from the conference and beyond to unlock financial support for great causes improving health around the world.

JOHNSON’S is bringing together an online community of pediatric advocates and professionals focused on newborn care and research. On Crowd360.org, Baby Science conversation takes the lessons learned, research announced and analysis needed for an integrated look at newborn health. A key driver of this initiative is providing the digital space for pediatricians to connect and leverage digital media in their advocacy for their work, research and profession. Join the community by signing up for the InFocus: Baby Science newsletter and visiting the AAP Live Coverage Hub.